We’re all mad here.

Posted: December 12, 2014 in Comedy Journal

Tonight I had a weird night in comedy, which is saying something. I was at a memorial service. It was my first time at a club in LA, and a local guy died last Friday. He killed himself, and it was very sad. His name was Alvin, and I didn’t know him, but before the show, a lot of local comics went up and talked about how much they missed their friend. Then I had to tell dick jokes.

I hope I don’t have to point out how funny this is.

Alvin seemed like an alright guy; funny, and positive, and really really sad. I don’t want to alienate anyone, and I will not make jokes at his expense, but I will say it was one the weirdest fucking shows I’ve ever done. The sickest, saddest part of it to me is, the show was funny. The wheels still churned. The bone and teeth and hair got ground up into pretty passable sausage. I think I got work out of it. A bunch of terrible, empty souls shared, got scared, and then pretended to be alright because they love attention more than they need feelings. I almost laughed my dick off.

Want to know something crazy? I felt sad. Really sad. I almost cried a couple of times. I had to bite my lip, and look up at the ceiling, and balance tears in my eyes like some perverse game on Double Dare or some other family challenge show. Seeing people ache like that about something I understand was really hard to witness, and to not be moved by. Hearing what Alvin thought, and how people felt about him was terrible, and beautiful, and made my guts hurt. I like hearing about people loving comedy. I hate hearing about people killing themselves. I felt like such a god damn fraud. I hated feeling myself measuring out how much sad was enough sad, and how much to show. I’d hate some stranger crying at my dead friend as much as I’d hate him laughing. Also, let me be super honest, I never quit realizing how fucking funny this was.

I’d fight a sob, and a guffaw, like Odysseus between Scylla and Charybdis. The awkwardness was lightened, many times, by the guys that run the club and the fellow comics, but you could only do so much. It was heavy.

From what I gathered, he was a smart guy, and certainly wasn’t above poking fun at himself and his position. I heard from all of his peers what a perpetually positive and curious guy he was, and we all made jokes about the therapy aspect of comedy, and it took a sad turn when we realized that sometimes therapy doesn’t work. I’ve been to a lot of shows over the last couple of weeks. Last Tuesday I went to a late night mic, and more comics than not talked about being institutionalized. Not “a lot” of people, More than half. The majority. This is a crazy fucking thing we’re doing, and I’m not sure if we’re crazy first or if comedy’s a monster that eats people. Probably both. But it was hard to be sad like that. And it was, simultaneously beautiful, and funny, and the meanest joke I’ve heard. A Lot of comics came together and were sad and supportive and loving in a way you would not expect from guys who I’m sure have notebooks full of sodomy jokes and ladies willing to make you embarrassed for saying bitch when you meant cunt.

I don’t think there’s a lesson here. I think it’s just a sad story, or even worse, a chapter in a sad book. But I read it, and it was good.

We watched some of his set during the show, he ended it on a quasi-upbeat note of “hey, at least your life’s not as bad as mine.” Which was pretty hard to listen to, but probably what people wanted to hear.

It might have been what I need to hear. I hope he’s happier.


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